Impulse versus opportunistic purchasing during a grocery shopping experience

Abstract

The current study introduces a conceptual distinction between two types of unplanned purchases—impulse purchases (i.e., spontaneous decisions triggered affectively) versus opportunistic purchases (i.e., rational decisions elicited by stimulus exposure)—grounded in separate dynamics of the cognitive processes unfolding during the course of a shopping trip. In a temporal analysis of shopping behavior within a simulated grocery-shopping experience, we found that participants increased their impulse buying but decreased their opportunistic buying, as a function of the number of basket items chosen previously. Similarly, impulse purchases increased in the final stages of the trip, particularly in shoppers without the aid of a shopping list, whereas opportunistic purchases decreased. Ours is thus the first study to report time–course evidence of two types of unplanned purchases within the grocery-shopping experience.

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Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge financial support from the Marketing Science Institute. Additional thanks are due to Orfeo Morello and Giovanni Pelloso for their technical and engineering expertise during this study.

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Correspondence to Francesco Massara.

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Massara, F., Melara, R.D. & Liu, S.S. Impulse versus opportunistic purchasing during a grocery shopping experience. Mark Lett 25, 361–372 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11002-013-9255-0

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Keywords

  • Unplanned buying
  • Impulse purchases
  • Opportunistic purchases
  • Shopping list
  • Grocery shopping experience